Wow. I’m probably going to end up head of our (quite small) department from next week or so. There’ll be an election, but no other candidates. There simply isn’t anyone else who can do it right now. It’s going to be a challenging job I suspect, because the arts and humanities faculty is currently reorganising everything, so we’ll be going through some big changes in the next couple of years.

A few months ago I was seriously thinking that I’d quit my job sooner than be head of the department. From everything I’ve heard, the increased administration basically means I can forget research for the next couple of years. There’s no extra pay or extra research leave afterwards, either, as there is for some administration jobs. That doesn’t seem like a great way to start a research career.

But then you know, thinking about it, tenure’s a pretty groovy thing to have, and so far I haven’t come across a job I’d rather have, not one that’s in Bergen where I need to be, anyway. And I’m renovating my flat, and I like my salary, and… OK, I admit it: I’ve sold my soul. Lisbeth is head of her department, and enjoys it, though she admits it’s a lot of work. She pointed out that being head of department is good experience for future work leading research projects. I know I would hate to sit on the sideline during this process of change. And it’s a little department, which doesn’t, apparently, necessarily mean correspondingly less work.

I’m worried, though, that if I don’t get any research done for two years it will be very hard to get back. And no, I wouldn’t worry about that if I was considering maternity leave or a two year leave to explore India and learn paragliding. The thing is, I don’t know whether I’ll be happy doing a job that’s all administration and teaching. I signed up for the academia thing because I enjoy research. I enjoy teaching largely because it’s connected to my research and I love sharing that knowledge.

Of course, maybe I’ll love it. I’m good at organising things. And I love knowing how things really work and having a say in things. Perhaps I’ll get a taste for administration, decide research is boring and step from this to a high-flying corporate gig that pays four times what I get now, kissing academia goodbye forever. Or I’ll aim to be dean, no, president of the university, no, why stop there, I’ll be minister for education! Or perhaps I’ll enjoy it and be perfectly happy to return to research when I’m done.

13 thoughts on “head of department

  1. H?•kon

    At least it’ll look good on your resume. A good looking resume is a nice thing to have.

    Regarding your long term plan, please note that it’s currently the Ministry of Education and Research.

  2. Torill

    Well, I did the teaching and administration thing for 7 years before I started the PhD – going back to research will most likely not be a problem, you will be wonderfully motivated 🙂

  3. James Farmer

    Congratulations Jill! A blogging HoD is a pretty cool thing if you ask me :O)

    Am sure you’ll do a fine job. Cheers, James

  4. Scott

    I’ll bet you’ll be good at it, and you’ll get some research done too, though now you have a great excuse if you don’t get much done. Congratulations.

  5. Thomas

    Great! Now you can mould the department into the perfect research institution that you can go back to when you finish your HoD-period. But remember, power corrupts!

  6. Jill

    Well, it’ll be interesting anyway 🙂

  7. Toril

    Fabilous Jill, and Congratulations!!!! I am really looking forward to the change, and I know you’ll do well. I am sure you’ll be back at research soon enough, a career among the “money-hungry” wouldn’t suit you, and that is meant as a compliment!!

  8. Kev

    Congrats! In my opinion you’re getting to be the head of one hell of a department. Allthough Dag’s shoes aren’t easy to fill, I’d bet my last dollar that you will be doing a great job! Btw; could I have my own office? ;p

  9. MarkH

    Maybe taking the post could be seen as a research project in it’s own right? I’m sure there are plenty of papers waiting to be written on the difficulties of implementing research, offset against the needs for administration responsibilites (or something like that?!!)

  10. vika

    Great news, Jill! A new adventure, anyway. I’m surprised at liking my current job more than I thought I would — granted, research is officially part of it, but I’m specifically liking the administration bit. There’s a satisfaction in successfully ensuring that the place where you and your colleagues work runs smoothly. It’s got its frustrations, but you’re right: it’s great practice for leading research projects.

    You can’t unlearn research, can you? It’s like riding a bicycle.

  11. hanna

    Ooh, congratulations, Jill!

  12. Bru

    Well, congratulation. Just don’t leave us alone 😉

  13. Anthony


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